The highly anticipated Beirut Rock Festival 2011 is one of many great concerts we’ve had this year, including Scorpions at the Byblos International Festival and the national GBOB 2011 competition. The two-day festival featured international bands like Serj Tankian, Moonspell and Katatonia with several supporting bands and was an important step towards getting more Metal-related bands to Lebanon.

The first day of the festival was a seated event only, and the place was packed with more than 1500 people, old and young, families and rockers alike. Indeed the event was half Rock half Folk, with a significant Armenian presence in the audience, in support of Eileen Khatchadourian, Khatchadour Tankian and of course Serj Tankian.

Local Lebanese trio Episode were the opening band, and they played a great show that further expanded their reputation as one of the most interesting local bands. The highlight of their performance was ‘the little surprise’ they had at the end of their set, when they added a System Of A Down medley to one of their songs. For those who are interested in getting to know the band even more, don’t miss out our interview with Episode (coming up soon).


Second on stage was Eileen Khatchadourian who also performed at Beirut Rock Festival 2009 with Yann Tiersen. The band plays Rock music sang in Armenian, with lyrical topics related to Armenian culture and tales. I enjoyed Eileen’s performance this year, but I hoped that the band would develop a more Progressive Rock sound rather than its Alternative Rock sound. Their keyboardist was surely knowledgeable of 70’s prog rock keyboard effects and the guitarist’s Gibson guitar further supported that with a couple of exciting riffs. If you liked their performance, check out Eileen’s album ‘Midan‘ which was named ‘Winner of the Best Rock Album’ at the 10th Armenian Music Awards. Here’s the band’s official website for more on that > Eileen Khatchadourian’s Official Website <.


After kicking the show with two local Rock bands, Serj’s father Khatchadour Tankian was supported by several musicians (including Episode’s bassist Karno) in his Armenian Folk performance that was perhaps most appreciated by elder audiences and least ‘digested’ by Rock fans. I personally enjoyed Khatchadour’s set, with the traditional melodies and rhymes of the Armenian culture. Lots of respect for the man who made Serj Tankian who he is today, being one of his biggest influences, both musically and personally. I’ve heard that Khatchadour was very excited to perform in Lebanon but I couldn’t make a word from his introductory speech (Armenian readers are welcomed to translate what he said that night).


Finally, around 10:30 PM, the Lebanese Symphony Orchestra was on-stage and ready to perform with a brilliant solo artist / political activist Serj Tankian in a symphonic arrangement of Serj Tankian’s music. The 1 hour set included most of the Elect the Dead album and songs like ‘Yes, It’s Genocide’, ‘Charades’ and ‘Blue’. Between songs, Serj proclaimed his love for this country which he had to leave back in the days of civil war, and being the activist that he’s known to be, he also couldn’t but comment on some Lebanese issues as well, like mixing politics with business and the lack of decent transportation system (tramway!). Still, Serj’s most hilarious moment on stage was when he addressed an attendee who was repeatedly calling for System of A Down’s ‘Chop Suey’ to be played, as he addressed the issue by stating that this show is an orchestral performance and not a live Rock band act. In fact, the only traces of a Rock band were two members of the F.C.C, Serj’s backing band for his first album Elect the Dead. Later on in the show, Serj expressed his love and appreciation for his father Khatchadour as they sang a traditional Armenian song under the name Bari Arakil’.


Overall, the first day of the Beirut Rock Festival 2011 was enjoyable, with a first-time performance by Serj Tankian in Lebanon, which will surely be repeated according to Serj’s words “I was here 37 years ago, next time won’t be so long’. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more of Serj very soon!


Check out the Beirut Rock Festival – September 2nd pictures on our Facebook group HERE.